Good airs

Following on from last week’s Wining On and the outdoor discovery for 2014 at Nuestro Secreto, a certain amount of snuffling around other joints to check out the lie of the land has gone on. With one brand-spanking new terrace perfect for swanky cocktail partaking in Hollywood to more casual beers and tapas Spanish-style and a new, sure-to-become-a-fave brunch patio, going al fresco at these places should cover all eventualities.

Hollywood's Peugeot Lounge.
Hollywood’s Peugeot Lounge.

Over in Palermo Botánico, there’s a new sibling for Malvón, that cutesy café originally spawned in Villa Crespo. Despite locating to a more contemporary-looking and different space compared with the kitsch, converted Crespo mansion, the second-generation geranium to bloom has stuck to the format, also sporting a chilled-out back patio.
Grab a wooden bench with red-and-white cushions because it could be a bumpy ride unless you’re already well-padded in the butt department. With a ringside view of the kitchen and a fairly unintrusive gnome beadily eyeing up the patio, thoughtful frames holding a variety of potted plants turn a blank white wall into a rather lusher canvas.
Lunch specials start at 72 pesos for a start, main and soft drink and have the similarly high standards one would expect from the original — give us this day our daily bread, which is baked in house, that scrumptious strawberry and jam spread, attentive service. Lunch ends at 4pm and we snuck in before the deal of the day ended: new potato, green bean and leek salad drizzled with a yogurt and mustard dressing, followed up by a substantial chicken Caesar salad popover, a bit like an open Yorkshire pudding that was so filling, I couldn’t finish it.
Lafinur 3275, Botánico

Although La esperanza de los Ascurra has already received some air time in this column, this new Hollywood sibling to the Crespo original has a terrace in the making. Slip past the tapas bar to the end of this quirky, retro space and hang a right. Wander upstairs to a rather barren space that is definitely on the road to somewhere. A few posters and drawings dot the whitewashed walls, but there is a real sense that this is a work in progress, so I’ll be keeping a keen eye on matters.
It’s also a great spot to be in the thick of Hollywood things without having to go anywhere near the masses of people who continue to descend upon the neighbourhood any night of the week.
But what’s absolutely worthy of note is the good nature and efficient service of our waitress. We ordered tapas — Serrano ham, burrata cheese, papas bravas, Spanish-style classics — and every time we added on another beer, or another bite to eat, it was delivered quickly and cheerily. Al fresco service with a bloody smile!
La esperanza de los Ascurra
Fitzroy 1818, Hollywood

Although plenty of wine at The Pick Market in Botánico has probably been suffering from sweat attacks much like me, the posh fruit and veg store does have a couple of fridges at the back, which, a couple of weeks ago, had some interesting — and more importantly — not Argentine wine in it.
For an impromptu picnic, grab a bottle of Barton & Guestier, a Grolleau and Cabernet Franc rosé from Anjou in the Loire Valley (that was keeping cool, two weeks ago before we quaffed some), and grab some treats — cherries, cheese, whatever you fancy. Give a knowing nod and check out with the cashier before heading upstairs and seconds later, some glasses should appear on your table.
Although this isn’t the most glamorous terrace in the hood, it has some decent greenage going on, is peaceful and is a chilled-out and unexpected spot. It’s a bit DIY, with some office workers dropping by for lunch, but there’s nothing like unearthing a quiet corner and making it yours for a while. And, if the heat gets too hot, duck inside to the AC-ed up interior.
The Pick Market
Ugarteche 3154, Botánico

There’s a decent buzz day and night at Boteco do Brasil, which recently relocated. (Take their website at face value as it still sports pics of the previous joint.) Midday attracts a random crowd of tourists and local workers, keen to take advantage of the daily lunch special that costs a measly 45 pesos and includes a main course, a soft drink and a bite-size dessert. Come nightfall, Portuguese and French are the languages to know as a colourful bunch come together, with caipi-coholics kicking back on the benches — all no doubt lured in by the bright patio.
From the street, peer through the yellow bars of the open window to the L-shaped al fresco space — primary colours dominate, not just the classic green and sunflower of Brazil’s national flag. Magenta bougainvillaea couldn’t possibly frame the windows any more perfectly; for the ultimate romantic table, walk through to the second leg of the patio and take up the first table on the left. Redundant petals adorn the white cushions like fallen confetti. Knock back a heap of authentic caipirinhas for Dutch courage, then pop the question (will you buy me a drink? Will you go home with me? Will you marry me? Etc).
Boteco do Brasil
Honduras 5774, Hollywood

A veritable gift on the luxury drinking scene, the Peugeot Lounge in Hollywood has been shaking and stirring since it opened a month ago — and after sipping cocktails on the stunning terrace, it’s easy to see why. Although I had to insist on an outdoor spot after being offered a table on the ground floor among the vintage car kit next to the ample wine cellar, the first-floor terrace was strangely almost empty. What was also strange but hugely appreciated was that all the staff greeted us and didn’t appear fazed by our midnight arrival.
Architect and interior designer Karen Garber has masterminded the space, and the eye is immediately drawn to an olive tree planted in a vast pot as a centrepiece. Ease into a banquette, one of the love chairs or at the bar for a bird’s eye view of Honduras. A living wall comprising multiple pot plants covers the side of the building next door, while design esthetics plays with proportion — the tables and birdcage chairs are oversize, while some of the beautifully carved tree-trunk stools go the other way.
Electronic music discretely pumps around the space, and of note is that this al fresco spot is in fact no smoking, as imposed by the bar itself. (Though after Mr. Links was refused an ashtray, our waiter returned with one a little later, confirming that he had received permission for Mr. Links to smoke.) With a drinks menu lovingly compiled by star mixologist Inés de los Santos, the Peugeot Lounge has a lot going for it: hip space, interesting cocktail list, welcoming staff. After one, late-night visit, my only criticism is this: pump up the tunes so we don’t have to listen to the crap the bar next door are playing…
Peugeot Lounge
Honduras 5624, Hollywood

Buenos Aires Herald, January 12, 2014

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